Upskirting is set to become a criminal offence in spring with perverts who film up women's skirts facing up to two years in prison as new law passes final legal hurdle

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Taking pictures up a woman's skirt is set to become a criminal offence in the spring - with perverts found guilty of doing so facing up to two years in prison. 
Upskirting often sees perpetrators taking photographs or videos of a victim's groin area from under their clothing, often without that person's knowledge. 
A new law which bans 'upskirting' passed its final legal hurdle today when it received its third reading in the Upper Chamber of the House of Lords. 
Gina Martin (pictured), 27, has long campaigned for a change in the law to make upskirting a criminal act - having been a victim of such behaviour herself
Gina Martin (pictured), 27, has long campaigned for a change in the law to make upskirting a criminal act - having been a victim of such behaviour herself
Reacting to the news, Barnoness Anita Gale, a member of the Lords, said: 'Victims of upskirting will now get justice and the perpetrators will be brought to justice'
Reacting to the news, Barnoness Anita Gale, a member of the Lords, said: 'Victims of upskirting will now get justice and the perpetrators will be brought to justice'
Campaigners had argued that existing laws for voyeurism, public decency and public order did not provide enough scope for a conviction.
Reacting to the news, Barnoness Anita Gale, a member of the Lords, said: 'Victims of upskirting will now get justice and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.'
While Sian Hawkins, a feminist and campaigner, said: 'Important stage for development of 'upskirting' legislation today. 
'Important to note this offence is treated as sexual offence, so anonymity for survivors, unlike 'revenge porn'.'
The upskirting bill will now become part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and cover England and Wales. It is already a crime in Scotland. 
Gina Martin, 27, has long campaigned for a change in the law to make upskirting a criminal act - having been a victim of such behaviour herself. 
The issue was thrust into the spotlight by 27-year-old Gina Martin, who launched a petition to make upskirting a sexual offence after realising someone took a photo up her skirt at a music festival in Hyde Park in 2017 when she took a selfie (pictured right). The alleged perpetrators are obscured in black and ringed
The issue was thrust into the spotlight by 27-year-old Gina Martin, who launched a petition to make upskirting a sexual offence after realising someone took a photo up her skirt at a music festival in Hyde Park in 2017 when she took a selfie (pictured right). The alleged perpetrators are obscured in black and ringed
She recalls an incident in 2017 when she spotted an image of a woman's thighs and underwear on a man's phone while at the BST Festival in Hyde Park, and realised the image was of her.
She reported it to the police but was told they could not punish the man because he had 'done nothing illegal', and so she launched a campaign to get upskirting added to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Speaking last year, she said: 'It's supermarkets, it's bus stops when they're on their own, Tube cars, in parks, festivals – it's happening everywhere.   
'The change in the law is huge, it sets a precedent of what's right and wrong and it means it will cover women in every situation which the law can't now.
'But changing attitudes is also really important. More importantly, realising you can be a regular person like I am and make a difference if you keep working at it and get the right people involved.'
The move to make upskirting a criminal act hit a roadblock last year when Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted 'object' when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15.  
There were cries of 'shame' in the Commons - including from minister Victoria Atkins - when Sir Christopher made his shock move as MPs were invited to wave the change in the law through.
Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope (pictured) shouted 'object' when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15 last year. But the government later intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse
Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope (pictured) shouted 'object' when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15 last year. But the government later intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse
The draft law came forward after Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse was backed by the Ministry of Justice to try and deliver it from the backbenches
The draft law came forward after Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse was backed by the Ministry of Justice to try and deliver it from the backbenches
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Prime Minister Theresa May later expressed her 'disappointment' at the block, and pledged the Government would back moves to get the anti-upskirting legislation through Parliament.  
The draft law came forward after Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse was backed by the Ministry of Justice to try and deliver it from the backbenches.
But because it was not debated in full, any MP could stop the reform from making progress by simply shouting 'object'.
Lack of debate is frequently cited by Sir Christopher - who has blocked dozens of pieces of legislation in the same way - as a reason for objecting to a Bill on principle.
Soon after, however, the government intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse.     
And now the House of Lords has ensured it passes its final hurdle meaning it should become law when it receives Royal Assent in the Spring. 
Reacting to the news, Ms Martin told the Metro: 'I knew it would become illegal because we were legally right, secured Government backing and had the support of good people across the country. 
'Regular people can make change. We’ve done it. We have made upskirting a sexual offence.’  

WHAT IS UPSKIRTING AND WHY IS IT NOT ILLEGAL? 

Upskirting often sees perpetrators taking photographs or videos of a victim's groin area from under their clothing and more often than not without that person's knowledge.
Campaigners say existing laws for voyeurism, public decency and public order to not provide enough scope for a conviction, with many victims concerned about access to justice.
It also is not covered by the Sexual Offences Act.
The lack of a specific law is why Gina Martin's case was dismissed by the Met last year.
The picture taken of her was not considered by investigators to fall foul of either public decency laws or meet the test for voyeurism. 
She was was told by the Met police 'there's not much we can do' because 'it's not a graphic image'. 
Proposed legislation would have made the practice a specific offence punishable by up to two years in jail and a place on the sex offenders register.
The move to make upskirting a criminal act hit a roadblock last year when Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted 'object' when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15. 
Soon after, however, the government intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse. 

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